The initials are the same. But the new advocacy group launched by the American Chemistry Council to address plastic bag issues will be known as the Progressive Bag Affiliates and will include resin producers and bag manufacturers.
The new PBA, which replaces the Progressive Bag Alliance as of Jan. 4, is part of the plastics division of Arlington, Va.-based ACC, and includes the three plastic carryout bag manufacturers that were part of the former group, created in 2005.
A new PBA director is expected to be hired in the near-term, said Steve Russell, managing director of ACC's plastics division, in a recent telephone interview.
He said Donna Dempsey, who served as managing director of the Progressive Bag Alliance, will ``continue to be a consultant for the immediate future.'' He did not speculate on her future role with PBA.
Keith Christman, senior director of packaging for the plastics division, said PBA will start with about eight members, equally split between bag manufacturers and resin producers. Russell and Christman declined to name the individual companies, pending completion of written commitments from those firms. They said they also hoped to persuade plastics recyclers to be part of the new group.
``ACC has an extensive network of experts in communities and states and was able to provide to the bag industry the resources and services to fit their needs,'' Russell said. ``It will now be easier to respond to local initiatives and to have a broader reach.''
New York City Council passed a bill Jan. 9 that mandates in-store plastic bag recycling at any retailer with more than 5,000 square feet. It is an important step, Russell said, as it is the first major city to mandate plastic bag recycling at large stores.
The measure will go into effect six months after it is signed into law and also applies to any chain or company that operates five or more stores in the city. Chicago is considering a similar measure.
The New York bill also requires each carryout bag to bear a recycling message in capital letters that is at least three inches in height. Stores also will be required to sell cloth or reusable bags and submit reports every two years starting July 1, 2012, on the number of bags recycled and their weight.
Russell declined to specify the 2008 budget for the new PBA, but said ``the hope is to have an operating budget large enough to meet all the challenges'' that plastic bag manufacturers will face.
Bag makers need better reach to advocate effectively, said Isaac Bazbaz, director of Superbag Corp. and chairman of the former Progressive Bag Alliance, in a statement.
``Forming the Progressive Bag Affiliates gives us the resources we need to accomplish our objectives of increasing bag recycling and preventing unwarranted policy approaches such as bans,'' Bazbaz said.
The former PBA had been spearheading the plastics industry's efforts to convince communities to recycle, not ban, shopping bags and had worked together with ACC on several advocacy and legislative initiatives in 2007.
``It is our vision [at the plastics division] to speak in a unified voice and respond aggressively to challenges in the industry,'' Russell said. ``The challenges to bag and different kinds of packaging represent a significant threat. We want to provide one-stop advocacy for the industry.''